A Methodist circuit is a cluster of independent churches under one administration. As Methodists we are committed to worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism as we work out our faith in daily life. We are part of the worldwide church, so we work with Christians of other denominations in the communities we serve in the Thirsk and Northallerton area.
History of the Circuit
According to his Journal John Wesley made fourteen visits to Northallerton between 1745 and 1788.
In 1745 in Newcastle, he met Watson Adams of Osmotherley, a former Franciscan friar who had left his order and married but still lived in the Osmotherley priory. This began a long historic engagement between the Roman Catholic and Methodist traditions in the village; John Wesley is recorded as preaching in the Catholic chapel which is still the Catholic church. Following the Newcastle meeting, Adams encountered Wesley again when he preached at the Buck Inn in Northallerton on April 15th 1745 when Wesley moved on to Osmotherley, the first of many visits there. Also present was Eizabeth Tyerman, a former Quaker and leader in the Osmotherley Methodist society, whose son Luke became an eminent Methodist historian.
John Nelson who became an early Methodist preacher preached in Northallerton when he was passing through with his regiment as a soldier. John Wesley is remembered as preaching in the yard of the Buck Inn in 1780. For some years Methodist meetings were held in the house of a Mr. C. Deighton following which ‘Richardson’s Long Room’ of the Golden Lion was used, a room usually the venue for balls and dances; (this room had to be relinquished, it is said, for some days during Easter, to enable cock fighting and other entertainments!) Notably in May 1755 Mr. Wesley brought his wife with him, on one of the few occasions she travelled with him before they separated. In 1796 a Miss Bowman donated land for a chapel to be built.
The first members of the Methodist society in Brompton were probably connected with the Northallerton society. Meetings were held in a local cottage until John Wilford, founder of the linen mill, helped with the building of a chapel in 1794.
Wesley also visited Thirsk, as did Charles Wesley accompanied by his wife Sarah in 1753.
Methodists in Thirsk met initially in a private house in Barbeck, and then in a room in Brady’s Yard. The deeds of the Methodist New Room are dated 1766. The first chapel was erected through the work of John Oastler, and at his expense. Wesley preached there several times, the last occasion when he was aged eighty five, in an octagonal chapel which he describes as equal to the one in Yarm. The chapel was rebuilt in 1816. Among the Thirsk Methodists was one of the early women preachers Mrs. Taft.
By the mid-nineteenth century, the Thirsk Methodist circuit which incorporated Northallerton had twenty one chapels. Until 1773 Thirsk and the surrounding preaching places formed part of the Yarm circuit. By 1773 Methodism had developed into two North Riding circuits one of which included besides Thirsk itself, Northallerton, Skipton and Brompton. According to their deeds this included the outlying villages: Sandhutton (1815) Sinderby (1835), Maunby (1836) Carlton (1838) Kirby Wiske (1825), Knayton (1810), Hornby (1835) Appleton Wiske (1823), Low Silton (1811), Sutton (1851), Danby Wiske (1839), Bagby (1823), Thornton-le-Beans (1860), Osmotherley (before 1756), Newby Wiske(1814), Snailsworth (1816), Borrowby (1807).
An old circuit plan lists also Thornton-le Moor, Ingleby Cross & Harlesy, Boltby, Smeaton Bank-head, and Upsall. After being incorporated into the Ripon circuit in 1794, the Thirsk circuit regained its own place within the Methodist Connexion in 1811.
Willliam Clowes, one of the founders of Primitive Methodism, preached in Brompton and in Northallerton in a room near a tan pit. Notably in 1834 the theatre in Northallerton was closed following a Primitive Methodist revival in the town, and a Mr Hutchinson, former Deputy Chief Constable was a leading worker in the society.
The present Northallerton and Thirsk circuit was formed on 1st September 1998.
Among our local churches the Methodist tradition has a long history of service and influence, from the Wesleys until today, our current ecumenical context prefigured so long ago in the unique setting of Osmotherley. For that we are grateful, and we can still say with Mr. Wesley, “the best of all is God is with us.”